26 March – 1 April: Motoring Milestone

Discover the momentous motoring events that have taken place this week in history …

120 years ago this week, the Winton Motor Carriage Company completed its first sale as Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania, US received a one cylinder Winton phaeton [1 April 1898]……90 years ago this week, Tazio Nuvolari driving a Bugatti T35C won the Pozzo Circuit Grand Prix at Pozzo [28 March 1928]……. The first Australian Grand Prix was run at the Phillip Island circuit in Victoria, Australia [31 March 1928]. The race was originally to be held on Monday 26 March however rain forced postponement until Saturday 31 March. It was open to “light” cars of up to 2 litre capacity and it attracted 30 entries, of which 17 started. The event was conducted as two separate races, with the first held in the morning for Class B (750cc to 1100cc) and D (1500cc to 2000cc) entries, and the second held in the afternoon, for Class A (up to 750cc) and C (1100cc to 1500cc) cars. The competitor setting the fastest time was to receive a £100 trophy donated by Mr CB Kellow and would be regarded as “Champion of the Day”. The overall winner was Arthur Waite in an Austin 7……. 70 years ago this week, the Necochea 1000 miles at Playas de Necochea in Argentina was won by Oscar Galvez in a Alfa Romeo 308 [28 March 1948]……. The modern era of Formula 1 began with the Grand Prix de Pau (France), which was won by Nello Pagani in a Maserati 4CL. Yves Giraud-Cabantous finished second and Charles Pozzi third [29 March 1948]…... the following day [30 March 1948] Giovanni Ceirano (83), Italian industrialist and automotive pioneer, died. He co founded ‘Junior Fabbrica Automobili Torinese‘ in 1905, ‘Società Ceirano Automobili Torino’ in 1906, ‘Fabbrica Automobili Ceirano‘ in 1917 and ‘SCAT- Ceirano‘ in 1923……. 60 years ago this week, the White Motor Company acquired the Diamond T Motor Car Company for $10,400,000 [1 April 1958]……. 40 years ago this week, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article about the 1978 Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars, indicating they would be excellent investments [27 March 1978]……. 30 years ago this week, all new cars manufactured after this date for the UK market were required to run on unleaded p
[1 April 1988]……. On the same day [1 April 1988] the Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition

was introduced at the New York Auto Show…….20 years ago this week, Ferdinand Porsche Jr (88), who helped his father develop the Volkswagen Beetle before World War II and later founded the sports car firm that bears his name, died [27 March 1998]……. Mika Hakkinen completed his third straight victory and McLaren secured its third straight 1-2 finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix [29 March 1998]. Hakkinen started from pole and led from start to finish, with the fastest lap thrown in for good measure. The race was notable for Damon Hill being disqualified for having an underweight car. ‘I don’t think it gets much worse than this,’ he said…….German automaker BMW bought Rolls-Royce for $570 million [30 March 1998]. But the deal was not smooth and has a very interesting story behind it. In 1998, owners Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but BMW’s final offer of £340m was beaten by Volkswagen’s £430m. A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker would retain certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) if the automotive division was sold. Rolls-Royce plc chose to license not to VW but to BMW, with whom it had recently had joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the “Spirit of Ecstasy” bonnet (hood) ornament and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name necessary to build the cars. Likewise, BMW lacked rights to the grille and mascot. BMW bought an option on the trademarks, licensing the name and “RR” logo for £40 million, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. VW claimed that it had only really wanted Bentley anyway. BMW and VW arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002 BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow use of the names, but this would cease on 1 January 2003. From that date, only BMW would be able to name cars “Rolls-Royce”, and VW’s former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called “Bentley”. The Rolls-Royce’s Corniche ceased production in 2002…….on the same day [30 March 1998] The last air-cooled Porsche 911 was delivered to its proud owner, the US TV star Jerry Seinfeld…….Andy Wallace drove a standard McLaren F1 production car at 240.14 mph (386.46 kmh) at the Volkswagen Proving Ground, Wolfsburg, Germany [31 March 1998]…... In China a new law requiring motorists in Beijing to install pollution-reduction devices went into effect [1 April 1998]…….10 years ago this week, the Ford Motor Company announced the sale of its Jaguar and Land Rover divisions to the Tata Group, one of India’s oldest and largest business conglomerates, for some $2.3 billion–less than half of what Ford originally paid for the brands [26 March 2008]. The sale came at a time when Ford, along with much of the rest of the auto industry, was experiencing a sales slump as a result of the global economic crisis. For Tata, which earlier that year had unveiled the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, the purchase of the venerable British-based luxury brands was referred to by some observers as a “mass to class” acquisition…….Jean-Marie Balestre (86), who once was the most powerful man in motor sport for 13 years as president of the Federation Internationale de Sport Automobile (FISA) between 1979 to 1991, died [28 March 2008]. He was heavily involved in what is colloquially called the FISA-FOCA war, a political battle over finances and control of the Formula One World Championships between 1980 and 1982. Balestre and his opponent, Bernie Ecclestone, settled the dispute after Enzo Ferrari brokered a compromise. Balestre signed the first Concorde Agreement, under which FOCA was granted the commercial rights to Formula One while the FIA retained control of all sporting and technical regulations. Balestre was elected as president of the FIA, while remaining president of FISA, in 1986 and is credited with establishing specific crash test requirements for Formula One cars, significantly improving the safety of the sport. He was also a key proponent of the switch to naturally aspirated engines in 1989, also arguing that such a move was essential for safety reasons. In 1991 he lost the election for FISA president to Max Mosley. With the merger of FISA and the FIA he also lost the FIA presidency to Mosley in 1993 and retreated to the presidency of the FFSA until the end of 1996…….The News of the World published their infamous expose on FIA Max Mosley’s private life [30 March 2008]. The newspaper claimed that he took part in an orgy with Nazi overtones. Moseley admitted the orgy with 5 prostitutes but denied the Nazi theme, took the paper to court and won……BMW announced its latest milestone in its pursuit of the hydrogen future, the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel [31 March 2008]. Based on the BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel version (gasoline and hydrogen), the mono-fuel vehicle’s internal combustion engine was optimized to run solely on hydrogen and shared the performance, comfort, and safety qualities of every production BMW 7 Series.

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